[guest post by Dana]
Mona Charen has a good piece over at The Bulwark today, suggesting that there will be a next coup attempt and noting that there is no time to waste in preventing it from happening:
Across the country, candidates who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election are seeking office in order to prepare the ground for the next election contest. Pardoned Trump ally Steve Bannon is encouraging MAGAites to run for local posts with authority to count votes. Bannon uses his popular podcast to tout “taking over the Republican party through the precinct committee strategy.. . . It’s about winning elections with the right people—MAGA people. We will have our people in at every level.”
At least 23 candidates who deny the outcome of the 2020 election are running for secretary of state in 19 states. Among those are battleground states that Biden won narrowly: Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona. Trump has endorsed candidates in Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan, the only time in history that a former president has bestirred himself over races so far down the ballot. “We’re seeing a dangerous trend of election deniers lining up to fill election administration positions across the country,” Joanna Lydgate, chief executive of States United Action, told the Guardian. Lydgate’s group also tallies 53 election deniers seeking governorships in 25 states, and 13 election deniers running for attorney general in 13 states.
Additionally, death threats and intimidation from MAGA extremists have caused one in five election administrators to say they will leave their posts before 2024. The most common explanation is that too many politicians were attacking “a system that they know is fair and honest” and that the job was too stressful. A February survey of 596 local election officials found that they spanned the political spectrum pretty evenly—26 percent identified as Democrats, 30 percent as Republicans, and 44 percent as independents. A majority said they were worried about attempts to interfere with their work in future elections.
While MAGA types are beavering away, attempting to stack election boards and other posts with election-denying zealots, what are other Americans doing? The clock is ticking.
Charen points out some of the foolish efforts made by both parties to oust politicians who are obviously not going to be ousted:
If past is prologue, Democrats will probably pour money into unwinnable races over the next few months. Remember Amy McGrath? She was supposed to dethrone Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Democratic donors gave her $88 million. Remember Jamie Harrison? He was going to defeat Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. Donors shoveled $130 million his way. Harrison lost by a 10-point margin. McGrath lost by nearly 20 points. The list goes on. Beto O’Rourke anyone? (Republicans do this too. Just look at the money wasted in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district.)
This year, donors are spending millions in an attempt to unseat the execrable Marjorie Taylor Greene. Sigh. Trump won Greene’s district with 75 percent of the vote. This. Won’t. Work.
Her point? Be smarter: think local elections. And I think she’s right:
Democrats, independents, and sane Republicans should focus instead on the critical local contests that will determine who counts the votes in 2024. Those unsexy races for local positions and administrative posts like secretaries of state could make the difference in 2024 between an election and a coup.
Tangentially, we know that Trump backed 26 primary candidates, and out of that list, 23 won, with one race still undetermined. And while a number of them were safe Republican incumbents, it’s eye-opening to see that of those 23 primary winners, 14 voted to overturn 2020 electoral votes and one voted to acquit in Trump’s second impeachment trial. Charen is right: The time to prevent the next coup attempt is now. Foolish is the individual who doesn’t believe it could happen again.